Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guerrilla Marketing: or How to Make Do with Little Money But Lots of Time and Imagination

Copyright © 2013 Eilis Flynn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point
Guerrilla marketing. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? It’s a term you might have heard of in the recent past, but not quite been sure of what it means. It’s a term that’s been around for about a quarter of a century, so it’s relatively new—but not as new as some of the techniques used in this form of marketing.
Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term in 1984 in his book, Guerrilla Marketing. Unlike traditional forms of marketing, guerrilla marketing depends on getting attention in unfamiliar ways. A prime example is the 2007 case in Boston, when small light displays with mysterious words written on them that showed up in places like subway stations and bridges around the city were mistaken for possible bombs. The police came out, bomb sniffers came out…and it was all for naught. The displays turned out to be ads for a cable TV show called Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and the mysterious words were from the show’s characters.
Another example is something that’s been used in the past couple of presidential election cycles, in the form of flash mobs, where seemingly impromptu gatherings (but in reality previously coordinated and choreographed via email, texting, and even Twittering) in public places end up in song, dance, and even a poetry slam before the gathering then dissipates in the same impromptu way. T-shirts worn by a group again in public gatherings and perhaps even reading from your work could be yet another example.
Guerrilla marketing is meant to be memorable and generate buzz. Unusual approaches in public, street giveaways, and more, are all designed to get maximum notice. Small groups are considered to work best in such techniques as they can get closer to the target audience.
What can this do for you? First of all, guerrilla marketing allows you to get close to the target audience. Maybe it’s a group of your friends wearing t-shirts with your book cover on the front and all playing a kazoo; that’s certainly memorable, and people would definitely talk about it. Subtle product placement, like the Boston incident (or maybe that wasn’t so subtle). Even graffiti. Or even blogs and websites, something with which you may definitely be familiar, but with a twist or some kind, something in which the readership of those particular blogs or websites are interested. Promotional items can fit into this category; you see individualized pens and notepads being distributed, but what about something you don’t see nearly as often—if you’ve written something involving the sea, pens with those tiny little boats or mermaids that float back and forth?
In any case, there are many ways that guerrilla marketing could work for you. Basically, you have to think of how you can make do with little money but lots of imagination. You need to be hands-on with this form of marketing; you can’t afford to pay someone to do something, but you can persuade others (who possibly owe you a favor) to give casual passersby a show they can’t possibly forget.
Now take a look around. What can you do to promote your work that doesn’t require much money?
Eilis Flynn has worked at a comic book company, a couple of Wall Street brokerage firms, a wire service, a publishing company for financial cultists, and a magazine for futurists. She’s also dined with a former British prime minister and a famous economist, can claim family ties to the emperor of Japan (but then can’t we all?) and the president of a major telecommunications company, worked at most of the buildings of the World Trade Centers, stalked actress Katharine Hepburn (for one block), and met her husband when he asked her to sign a comic book. With all these experiences (all of which are true!), what else could she do but start writing stories to make use of all that? She’s written a variety of things that also don’t seem to belong together, but they do: comic book stories both online and in print, scholarly works in a previous life as a scholar, book reviews and interviews, and articles about finance (at odds with her anthropology background), before settling down to write romantic fantasies about the reality beyond what we can see.
Eilis lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats. She was written Superman family stories for DC Comics (as Elizabeth Smith). Her first five novels—The Sleeper Awakes, Festival of Stars, Introducing Sonika, Echoes of Passion, and Static Shock,and Wear Black (cowritten with Heather Hiestand)—are available at most online retailers, and her novella,Riddle of Ryu, and short story, "Halloween for a Heroine," is available at the same digital stores. Her latest comic book story, ”30-Day Guarantee,” is available at
If you’re curious to find out more, you can check out She can be reached at If you’re looking for a professional editor for your own work, check out her rates at

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